Citi Bike for the Out of Practice
September 24, 2015 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Citi Bike has just come to Jersey City, and I've signed up, mostly because I used to ride my bicycle all the time, and I kinda miss it. Any advice on where might be a good place to start?

I realize that riding a bicycle is the paradigmatic example of something you never forget how to do, but it's still been about 15 years since the last time I had the opportunity... and my previous experience took place mostly on comparatively quiet suburban streets. Neither JC nor NYC strikes me as a particularly safe place for somebody trying to share the road with cars and pedestrians, and I'm more than half wondering whether this was an inherently terrible idea.

I'm hoping that I will be able to cope with this and not be run over on my first outing, which could be on either side of the Hudson. (Probably during the week and after work, if in NYC; weekends are more likely to be in JC.) Any suggestions on where would be a good place for that? Previous NYC-biking questions here seem more geared toward Serious Riders who are trying to avoid people like me.

(I wouldn't mind other tips for the Citi Bike newbie, for that matter.)
posted by Shmuel510 to Travel & Transportation around Jersey City, NJ (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Bring it to Liberty State Park?
posted by lownote at 2:35 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Be sure and carefully read the terms of the Citi Bike agreement If it is at all like Chicago's Divy it has a slightly tricky rule set that catches people out who are not careful - The membership is for unlimited 30 minute rides - it doesn't let you keep a bike all day without incurring heavy extra charges unless you restart the clock every 30 minutes by checking your bike in.

I ultimately decided not to go with a membership because I like to go for long bike rides and found it annoying to have to constantly be thinking about where to check in every 30 minutes.

Other than that I suggest riding where you see other people riding.
posted by srboisvert at 2:43 PM on September 24, 2015

Citi Bike does 45 minutes, and any park should be ok. To re-learn as an adult, I went to Governor's Island on a Sunday (no cars!) and rented a bike there for an afternoon. It was pretty inexpensive to rent for 3 hours and I felt confident enough by the end that my next ride was on actual streets.
posted by loolie at 3:15 PM on September 24, 2015

Hi Shmuel!

I'm not sure where you are located in Jersey City, but if you are wanting to take some easy first pedals just to get a feel for things, the rack on Central avenue next to Pershing field is probably a pretty good place. I saw some people doing exactly what you are asking for over there today. You could take the bike for a ride back and forth on the paved interior straight-away that runs along the playing fields just inside the park, and then if you wanted to get a little fancier you could take it further up in the park near the tennis courts and ride around the short narrow paved looped walkways.

That's a pretty beginner level approach. However, if you can get over to Lincoln park there's a docking station not far from the entrance. Lincoln park is fantastic for biking now- it's got a big loop with two wide, separated and protected bike lines all the way around the park. Once you get comfortable with that loop, you could cross the park bridge and take a tour on the other side of the hard-packed dirt nature trail and the new playing fields. You could get a lot of riding in while still being close enough to the docking station to switch out bikes when your time is up if you still wanted to stay out for longer.


Happy Riding!
posted by stagewhisper at 5:15 PM on September 24, 2015

To add: I didn't realize there was a Liberty State Park dock near the science center- that may be the best option yet (as lownote suggested) since there's a few miles of paths in there that you can ride on away from cars. As for more tips on biking in general, in Jersey City, you can follow @bikejc on twitter or the Bike Jersey City facebook page.
posted by stagewhisper at 5:21 PM on September 24, 2015

If you work near the west side of Manhattan, you could go up and down the greenway along the river, which is much better than riding on the streets.

More general tips (I citibike to work most days):

1. Use your bell. Cars and pedestrians come out into the bike lane constantly, so make sure they know you're there. I like to test that the bell is working before checking go out a bike.

2. On a path, or in a bike lane, try to stay to give other cyclists room to pass you if possible. The citibikes are heavy, so people on road bikes can often go faster.

3. If there is a red light on a docking station, the bike is out of service, so don't bother trying to check it out.

4. In addition to testing the bell, I like to adjust the seat height before checking out a bike. Occasionally the seat is stuck, so it's easier to check that first.

5. When you check a bike back in, make sure the light turns green. If not, it isn't checked in (and you're still liable for it). I find that it is easiest to dock the bike back in if you put it in firmly, but don't slam it.

6. Get the citibike app. It isn't perfect, but it does give real time updates about docking stations nearby and how many bikes (or empty docks) there are.
posted by Caz721 at 6:33 PM on September 24, 2015

I used to be a big biker in Hudson County till about 15 years ago, when traffic seemed to double overnight and everyone started using their phones while driving. These days, I use a helmet and think about the route.
Yes on biking along the Hudson river in Manhattan. But there is also a great bike path along the waterfront that leads to Hoboken and points north. Very safe and popular.
posted by TenaciousB at 9:44 AM on September 25, 2015

When you check a bike back in, make sure the light turns green.

This may have saved me a zillion dollars.
posted by Shmuel510 at 10:35 AM on September 27, 2015

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